Friday, 18 October 2019

Star Wars Millennium Falcon [WIP - Upper & Lower Hull: Basecoat, Panel Lines & Water Decals at 1/144 scale]

My journey with the Star Wars scale model kits was supposed to have continued with a piece serving as the dioramic complement to a figurine nearing completion, both at 1/12 scale. But plans change. While I've always been uncomfortable with half-finished kits gathering dust in semi-storage, there are admittedly some projects that I can see no way forward for. Previously, the Bandai Star Wars 1/144 scale Millennium Falcon was just such a project, premised on a significant shift in my hobby skills.   

Bandai 1/144 scale Millennium Falcon Work-in-Progress: Basecoat, Panel Lines & Decals on Lower/Upper Hull

Let me explain. Midway through the Millennium Falcon project, I had added an airbrush system to my set of tools. However when I had begun this project, water decals were being used to represent colored panels on the hull. In terms of realism, painting the panels will always be a better option but then I couldn't very well have a hotchpotch of hull panels comprising some with decals mixed with others that are painted. So caught in two minds, unsure whether to strip panels containing the colored decals and repaint, or to proceed using only decals and not paint, I did nothing. Finally in a moment of clarity, I decided to go the latter route so as not to let all my previous work go to waste.

Primer and paints used on the Millennium Falcon's Upper and Lower Hull, in addition to water decals

Process-wise nearly half the work had already been completed more than a year ago. Way back then I had primed, basecoated and then gloss coated both the Upper and Lower Hull in preparation for decal application on the individual armor panels. Shortly after though, everything just got mothballed.

Millennium Falcon Lower Hull Work-in-Progress: After primer coat, basecoat and clear gloss top coat
Millennium Falcon Lower Hull Work-in-Progress: After panel lining with an oil-based wash
Millennium Falcon Lower Hull Work-in-Progress: After applying water-based decal markings

To get the ball rolling again, I took both hulls out of storage and began panel lining them. Past experience had alerted me to Bandai plastic's proneness to cracking when exposed to enamel thinner. To combat this predicament I used oil-based (instead of enamel) washes for panel lining. This allowed me to clean any excess wash with odorless mineral spirit or white spirit. Both are much gentler on the Bandai plastic. Since the switch, I haven't had the Bandai plastic crack on me.

Millennium Falcon Upper Hull Work-in-Progress: After primer coat, basecoat and clear gloss top coat
Millennium Falcon Upper Hull Work-in-Progress: After panel lining with an oil-based wash

Millennium Falcon Upper Hull Work-in-Progress: After applying water-based decal markings

In terms of decal I will always favor water-based ones over either dry transfer or sticker decals. Having worked with the latter recently, it only made me more appreciative of the water decals that Bandai provided for the 1/144 scale Millennium Falcon. In this case, the beauty of using decals was two-fold. Firstly, they looked surprisingly good. Not counting the eye of an expert modeler, you would be hard pressed to tell that these were decals instead of paint. Secondly, any damage to the decals during application actually doubled up as chipped paint ... a win-win scenario.

Both the Lower and Upper Hull have yet to be weathered

Because the Upper and Lower Hull already looks so busy with just the basecoat, decals, panel lines and molded details, any attempt at weathering has to subtle. Too much and everything will be a dark mess. At the moment, I can't decide whether to start weathering both hulls first before assembling the two halves together or vice versa. We'll see ... soon hopefully. There is a sense of gratification in bringing an abandoned project back to life. Since my unbuild kits now number more than finished ones, getting another project up and moving towards the finishing line, well, feels great. And with that I leave you with a totally unrelated quote from the world's deadliest spy, Mr. Sterling Archer, “Something, something, danger zone! I know. I’m not even trying anymore.”

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19 comments:

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    1. One of mine too, at least my Top 5 for sure :)

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  2. I never cease to marvel at your attention to detail.

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    1. Thanks Michael, though it's feels more like a disorder than a skill ... rofl ... ^_^

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  3. Coming along nicely after a long hiatus.

    I think that a long hiatus is the only way that I do projects, so hopefully I have some come along nicely afterwards!

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    1. Good luck on your "in-hiatus" projects :) We need a bit of luck then and again to get these babies up and running again.

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  4. Brilliant the techniques used really make the detail pop out at you.

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    1. Thanks Simon ... if the molded detail is good, then it will always make the modeler look good. ^_^

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  5. Looks wonderful, impressive details!

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  6. Fantastic work Kuan !
    Great details !
    Greetings

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  7. Glad you‘re back at this particular project!

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  8. Oh, I'm so excited to see you are back to the Falcon again! Interesting thoughts about decals and painting. As far as I can tell by the pics, everything looks gorgeous, so you are on the right path. Keep on!

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    1. Thank you Suber, much appreciated. I think it looks okay with the decals but some modelers will definitely pooh-pooh the effort as they feel painting is the only way to go.

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    2. Well, I think it's just another tool, so I don't see why any fuzz on the subject. If it works, it works!

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  9. Amazing to see what a wash and a few decals can do.

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    1. It's always nice when the results far outstrip the effort put in ^_^ ... although those water decals were a bit tricky to work with.

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